Hon. Amina Gerba: Honourable senators, as co-chair of the Canada-Africa Parliamentary Association, I had the privilege of leading a parliamentary delegation to Cameroon last week.
The delegation was made up of five other parliamentarians, including our colleague, the Honourable Senator Cormier, and four MPs: Joël Lightbound from the Liberal Party of Canada, Lianne Rood from the Conservative Party, Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe from the Bloc Québécois, and Richard Cannings from the New Democratic Party. This was the association’s second mission to Cameroon, the first having taken place in 2012.
I want to thank the High Commissioner for Canada in Cameroon and her entire team for their help and support.
I also want to take this opportunity to thank the many Cameroonian dignitaries who welcomed us warmly and with whom we had meaningful discussions. I am thinking, in particular, of the Prime Minister and leader of the government in Cameroon, the President of the National Assembly of Cameroon and the First Vice-president of the Senate.
The discussions that we had with our parliamentary counterparts focused mainly on how our parliaments work, our respective electoral systems and the structure of our commissions and committees. We also talked about international human rights issues.
Several meetings were also organized with Cameroonian civil society, particularly with representatives from the business community, women’s rights defenders, Cameroonians who studied in Canada and who have returned to Cameroon, and organizations that benefit and have benefited from Canada’s support.
Canada and Cameroon have maintained diplomatic relations for 61 years and share a common history. Both countries are members of the Commonwealth and the Francophonie, and they are the only countries in the world to have both French and English as official languages.
This mission enabled those delegates who were visiting Cameroon for the first time to understand why this country — with its wide range of ethnicities, cultures, wildlife, climates, geography, cuisines and languages — is known as “Africa in miniature”.
Colleagues, parliamentary missions abroad are of crucial importance in that they strengthen our ties with little-known yet highly promising regions of the world, such as the African continent.